Landrum Council reviews proposed budget, potential property tax increase sparks debate

Published 2:24 pm Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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LANDRUM—At its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, June 11, the Landrum City Council performed its first public read-through of the proposed 2024-2025 budget, which is scheduled to go into effect on Monday, July 1. 

City Manager Rich Caplan prepared a presentation explaining the changes in the current year’s budget.  

In his presentation, Caplan explained the possibility of raising the city’s municipal tax rate, also known as property tax, by 1.4 percent. Currently, Landrum has the twelfth lowest municipal tax rate in Spartanburg County, and the raise would place them with the tenth lowest municipal tax rate in the county.

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“We’ve had a couple of meetings with individual council members to both get input and answer questions and go over details of the proposed budget,” said Caplan. “The budget is a significant increase this year from the past.” 

The expected revenues for the 2024-2025 period is $3,253,363, and the expected expenditures total $3,250,542, leaving an ending balance of $2,281.

The top expenditures included $210,000 to hire three new police officers, $370,000 for street paving projects (which came from COVID funding), and approximately $150,000 for capital purchases such as two police cars and a dump truck (to come from the city’s reserve fund).

Other significant expenditures include $60,000 planned for the construction of a new public restroom downtown and $70,000 allotted for improvements to Brookwood Park and Northside Park.

Several citizens spoke to the council to express their discontent with the tax increase. 

“I ask that you reconsider placing a burden of increased taxes on what you deem less troublesome areas, such as businesses and second homes, when, ultimately, this will impact all citizens,” said Landrum citizen Eric Schwartz. “It’s always a burden to everybody, and it’s always so far-reaching.”

Another resident, David Wilson, also shared concerns.

“It’s just not cheap anymore to go to Bojangles or KFC, and this right here, is it going to raise those taxes?” he said. “It sounds like it is.”

“We never see a tax decrease. All we see is an increase. So I hope you folks will really reconsider this budget,” Wilson added. “I’m all for the police. I’m all for the fire department. They deserve what they get, but I just hope you’ll reconsider all the other additions that you’re asking for.” 

Councilwoman Judy Henderson assured those in attendance that she would be voting no to raising the municipal tax. 

“I want everybody to know that I’m all for the police, but to do a tax increase three times in four years is just not an acceptable way for us to represent the citizens of Landrum.”

Council Member Warren Ashmore also assured the people that there would be future readings of the budget and the tax could change or be removed entirely. “If it adds more police officers, I am behind that 150 percent because that means a safe community,” said Ashmore.

A second reading will be held for the public on Tuesday, June 25, at 5:30 p.m. at the Landrum City Hall Council Chambers, located at 100 North Shamrock Ave. in Landrum.